IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.5
Death threats /
Harassment / Impunity
April 27, 2016
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a jointprogramme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and theInternational Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new informationand requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.
The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar SurakshaMancha (MASUM) of renewed threats and harassment against relatives of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, a District Human Rights Monitor for MASUM in Murshidabad district(West Bengal, India). Mr. Sarkar is a renowned human rights defender who hasbeen instrumental in denouncing numerous cases of human rights violations inMurshidabad district.
According to the information received, on March 28, 2016, at around 7pm, the house of Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s brother, in thevillage of Bardhanpur Choyapara, Raninagar, Murshidabad, was again surrounded byMr. Rafikul Islam and seven other accomplices,who were all already involved in previous assaults against Mr. Abdul MajidSeikh’s house on March 23 and 24, 2016 (see background information). The assailantsgathered in front of the house, heavily armed with firearms and sharp weapons,shouting and uttering threats against Ms. Janera Bibi, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’saunt, who lives in the house neighbouring the one of Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh. Theattackers threatened to set fire to the house and burn alive the members of thefamily if they did not withdraw the Raninagar police station case no 123/2016,which was brought against Mr. Rafikul Islam and his accomplices following the March23, 2016 attack, based on a complaint submitted by Ms. Janera Bibi.
On March 30, 2016, Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh’s family filed a new complaint beforethe local Police Superintendent of Murshidabaddistrict.
On April 2, 2016, at about 7 pm, Mr. Rafikul Islam, Mr. Mejarul Sheikhand other accomplices assembled once more in front of the houses of Mr. AbdulMajid Sheikh and Ms. Janera Bibi, heavily armed. They again threatened Mr.Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives with dire consequences if they did not withdrawthe above-mentioned Raninagar police station case. The situation was broughtagain to the Raninagar police station, which was reluctant to report the case.Therefore they filed another written complaint signed by Ms. Janera Bibi datedApril 3, 2016 before the local Police Superintendent of Murshidabad district.
Yet, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, the Raninagar police had stillnot arrested any of the accused persons, and Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s familyremains concerned for their safety. Moreover, on April 23, 2016, at 10.51 am, PoliceSub-Inspector Mr. Gautam Dutta, from Raninagar police station, called Mr.Sayeed Hossain, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s elder brother, on his mobile phone,asking him “to compromise the matter mutually” with the accused persons.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern following the renewed threatsand acts of harassment against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives, and recallsthat these are not isolated incidents. Such recurrent acts of intimidation and harassment,including by the police, seem to beretaliation for his work as MASUM District Human Rights Monitor in Murshidabad.In particular, it is noteworthy that one of the assailants, Mr. Amzad Hossian,is the son of Mr. Nasiruddin Sarkar, who is the Pradhan of Malibari I GramPanchayet, against whom MASUM has made complaints for misappropriation ofpublic money.
On November 21, 2014, law enforcement agents from theRaninagar police station arrested Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar at his place ofresidence and transferred him to the ACJM Court, Lalbagh. Mr. Sarkar wasreportedly arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant for a pending criminal caseunder the Passport Act.
On May 20, 2014, Mr. Sarkar had filed an applicationbefore the ACJM Court, Lalbagh, expressing his concern that he had been falselyimplicated in an unknown criminal case by the police and the BSF, andrequesting more details about such case. However, until his arrest six monthslater, Mr. Sarkar did not receive any information about the status of saidcriminal case, neither did he receive any summons from the police nor thecourt.
Mr. Sarkar was reportedly assaulted, abused andmistreated by the police during his arrest as well as in custody. On November22, 2014, Mr. Sarkar was admitted to Lalbagh Sub-Divisional Hospital andsubsequently referred to Berhampore New General Hospital on November 27, 2014, for medicaltreatment following the injuries suffered in custody. On November 28, 2014, hewas taken to Kolkata for advanced medical treatment. On November 29, 2014, heunderwent psychiatric counselling; the medical report stated that he hadseveral injuries such as a suspected fractured rib, as well as post-traumaticstress, a tear on a ligament on his left leg,a feeling of humiliation, intense anxiety, fear and a feeling of sadness andhelplessness. He suffered from insomnia and his doctors expressed their concernthat the attack could have long-term effects on his psychological health. Mr.Sarkar went to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for further treatment onDecember 3, 2014.
On November 23, 2014, Mr. Sarkar’s son filed a complaint to thelocal Police Superintendent of Murshidabad urging the police to carry out aninvestigation into the beatings his father had been subjected to while inpolice custody. However, to this date, no information could be obtainedregarding any enquiry or investigation following the complaint.
On September 22, 2015, Mr. Sarkar was abducted in Sekhpara (Murshidabad,West Bengal) by five to seven police officers from the Islampur police stationwho were not wearing uniforms. At the time of the incident, Mr. Sarkar wastalking with victims of torture and their family members when the policeofficers arrived in a car and started beating and insulting him. The officersthen placed him inside the vehicle and took him away.
On September 23, 2015, Mr. Sarkar was taken before the AdditionalDistrict and Sessions Judge (2nd Court) in Berhampore-Murshidabadand a criminal case was opened against him under Sections 376, 511, 323, 506and 400 of the Indian Criminal Code and under Sections 8 and 12 of the Act forProtection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. During his detention he wasslapped, kicked and pounded on the chest as well as verbally abused. He was notgiven access to his medication and was denied food at night. He was thenobliged to walk barefoot and was brought before the Court in this condition. At6.15 p.m. on the same day, a petition for bail was rejected and Mr. Sarkar wasthen transferred to the prison Berhampore Central Correctional Home. A CriminalRevision at Calcutta High Court (CRR No. 404/2016) was filed to quash thecriminal proceeding against Mr. Sarkar at Islampur police station.
Two other cases against Mr. Sarkar, namely the“Raninagar police station case No. 364/2013” (under section 12 of Passport Actread with section 109 of Indian Penal Code) and the “Domkal police station caseNo. 1243/2014” (under section 308 of the Indian Penal Code), are also ongoing.A Criminal Revision at Calcutta High Court (CRR No. 2671/2015) was filed toquash the criminal case pending against Mr. Sarkar at Raninagar police station.
MASUM has filed several complaints regardingthe harassment of its members and has been regularly sharing information withthe National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Regarding previous incidents withMr. Sarkar and other MASUM members, the Focal Point on Human Rights Defendersat the NHRC called MASUM and informed them that they had taken up the case andsought a report from the relevant police and civil administration, but up tothis date no documents have been shared with MASUM and no appropriate actionhas reportedly been taken.
On September 22, 2015, immediately followingMr. Sarkar's abduction, MASUM filed a brief complaint with a request for urgentmeasures from the NHRC and contacted the Focal Point of the NHRC on HumanRights Defenders. However, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, no actions had reportedly been taken over theallegations of police abuse upon Mr. Sarkar.
On November 27, 2015, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar was granted bailin relation to the first criminal case, but was not released on that day as theother case was still pending against him.
On December 8, 2015, Mr. Sarkar was finally released on bail pursuant tothe second case, since the de facto complainant filed an affidavitstating that she did not bring any allegation of rape against Mr. Sarkar andshe had no knowledge of the related criminal case against him.
On March 23,2016, at midnight, Mr. Rafikul Islam and his accomplices used sharp weapons andfirearms to attack the house of Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh. The attack occurredwhile everyone in the house was asleep. During the attack, the perpetratorsshouted threats against Mr. Ripon Seikh, Mr. Masudul Hossain and Mr. SahidulIslam, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s nephews. The group also loudly insulted the womeninside the house. Although the Raninagar police station was phoned and informedof the attack that night, they did not intervene.
The next morning at 6 am, as Mr. Ripon Seikh, Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh’sson, exited his house, Mr. Rafikul Islam and his group attacked him withdaggers, pistols and bombs. Mr. Ripon Seikh was hit in the back with a daggerand fell down bleeding. At that moment, Mr. Kabil Seikh and Mr. Habil Seikh,two cousins of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, tried to help Mr. Ripon Seikh and wereboth attacked and severely injured. The attackers then fled and eyewitnesses ofthe incident brought the injured to Godhanpara Block Primary Centre, who weretransferred to the Baharampur New General Hospital due to their seriouscondition. Messrs. Ripon Seikh, Kabil Seikh and Habil Seikh were subsequently releasedfrom the hospital but remain under medical treatment.
On March 24, 2016, Mr. Ripon Seikh’s grandmother registered a complaint withthe Raninagar police station, but a copy of the First Information Report (FIR)was only provided to the family on March 25, 2016 evening after severalrequests were made. Raninagar police registered case no. 123/2016 based onthis complaint against Mr. Piarul Islam, Mr. Nijarul Islam, Mr. Rafikul Islam,Mr. Panjatan Sk, Ms. Hema Bibi, Ms. Adora Bibi and Mr. Hamida Bibi.
Moreover, on March 24, 2016, the Raninagar police registered anothercriminal case based on a complaintlodged by Ms. Hema Bibi (Mr. Rafikul Islam’s wife and one of the accusedpersons in above-mentioned attack) against Messrs. Abdul Majid Seikh, RiponSeikh, Sahidul Islam, Masidul Seikh, Alamgir Kabir, Babu Seikh and Makil Islam,who are all close relatives of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar. On March 30, 2016,they all surrendered in court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate,Lalbagh, and were released on bail.
It is feared that other fabricated criminal cases may be started by thepolice against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar and/or his family members in the future.
Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychologicalintegrity of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, hisrelatives as well as of all members of MASUM and all human rightsdefenders in India;
ii. Carry outan immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation intothe above-mentioned attacks, threats and acts of harassment against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar and his relatives, inorder to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independenttribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judiciallevel - against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar,his relatives and all members of MASUM as well as against all humanrights defenders in India so that they are able to carry out their work withouthindrances;
iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, especially its Articles 1 and 12.2;
v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration ofHuman Rights and with international and regional human rights instrumentsratified by India.
Please also write to the National Human RightsCommission of India, urging it:
i. to undertake an independent and impartialinvestigation into the above-mentioned attacks, threats and acts of harassment against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar and his relatives, inorder to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independenttribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
ii. to call upon the Indian authorities:
- to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychologicalintegrity of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, hisrelatives as well as of all members of MASUM and all human rightsdefenders in India;
- to put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judiciallevel - against them as well asagainst all human rights defenders in India.
Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Ministerof Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs of India. Fax: +91 11 23092979
Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice of India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: email@example.com
Mr. A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission, India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal. Fax: +9133 2214-352833 2214-3528. E-mail: email@example.com
H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations inGeneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Embassy of India in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 26451869
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India in yourrespective country.
 Mr. Rafikul Islam’s accomplices include his brothersMr. Mejarul Seikh and Mr. Panjaton Seikh; his wife, Ms. Hema Bibi; Mr. PiarulIslam; Mr. Nasiruddin Seikh; Mr. Santu Seikh; and Mr. Amzad Hossian, who is theson of Mr. Nasiruddin Sarkar, the Pradhan of Malibari I Gram Panchayet (localself government). All are believed to also be engaged in different illegalactivities such as extortion, theft, violence against women, and smuggling.Despite official complaints lodged by local residents regarding these illegalactivities, the local police have undertaken no action against these individualsfor these crimes. Mr. Rafikul Islam is a local leader of the Indian NationalCongress Party and his wife, Ms. Hema Bibi, is a member of Malibari l GramPanchayet as a candidate of the Indian National Congress Party.
 The Raninagar police station case no. 123/2016 was registeredunder sections 323 (hurt) / 341 (wrongful restraint) / 326 (causing grievoushurt by dangerous weapons) / 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (commonintention) of the Indian Penal Code.
 See Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 001 / 0514 / OBS 041, issued on May 15, 2014.
 This Court is adesignated Special Court for the Narcotic Drugs and PsychotropicSubstances Act (NDPS Act) and the Protection of Children from SexualOffences Act (POCSO Act).
 For more informationon the cases, see Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.3, issued on January 8, 2016.
 No charge sheet wasfiled against him in relation to that case.
 The case is registered as “Raninagar police stationcase no. 125/2016” under sections 448 (criminal trespass) / 323 (hurt) / 325(causing hurt by dangerous weapons) / 427 (causing mischief) / 34 (commonintention) of the Indian Penal Code. CallSend SMSCall from mobileAdd to Skype
- Urgent Interventions
Release on bail and ongoing judicial harassment of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar
- Urgent Interventions
Attacks against relatives of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, MASUM District Human Rights Monitor in Murshidabad